- WASHINGTON EXAMINER - JULY 25, 2021 - Jerry Dunleavy, Justice Department Reporter -
Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that it would’ve been “negligent” for the National Institutes of Health not to fund bat coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and declined to commit not to collaborate with Chinese government scientists in the future, insisting that “we have always been careful.”
Last week, Sen. Rand Paul requested Attorney General Merrick Garland criminally investigate Fauci over his Senate testimony, during which he said the NIH never funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab, which the Kentucky Republican says is a lie. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, insists the NIH grants did not fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab.
On Sunday, CNN’s Jake Tapper referenced last week’s back-and-forth between Paul and Fauci, noting the NIH has insisted the U.S. government-funded experiments proposed by the EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan lab did not meet the NIH’s definition of gain-of-function research and asked if the United States should "collaborate" with such labs whose research critics consider risky.
Fauci defended the NIH’s approval process and the funding of bat coronavirus research in Wuhan, saying it had been important to try to understand where SARS-CoV-1 originated, years before the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
“If you go back to when this research really started and look at the scientific rationale for it, it was a peer-reviewed proposal that was peer-reviewed and given a very high rating for the importance of why it should be done to be able to go and do a survey of what was going on among the bat population because everyone in the world was trying to figure out what the original source of the original SARS CoV-1 was — and in that context, the research was done,” Fauci insisted. “It was very regulated. It was reviewed. It was given progress reports. It was published in the open literature. So, I think if you — if you look at the ultimate back rationale, why that was started, it was almost as if you didn’t pursue that research, you would be negligent because we were trying to find out how to prevent this from happening again.”
At issue in Paul's criminal referral is Fauci's testimony before Congress on May 11, when he denied under oath that the NIH funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab. Paul pointed to NIH grants going to the EcoHealth Alliance, which then provided funding to the Wuhan lab that a Trump State Department fact sheet contended carried out secretive gain-of-function experiments and worked with China’s military. At the time, Fauci told Paul: “The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
NIH’s RePORTER website said the agency provided $15.2 million to Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance over the years, with $3.74 million toward understanding bat coronavirus emergence. Daszak maintained a long working relationship with Wuhan lab “bat lady” Shi Zhengli, sending her lab at least $600,000 in NIH funding. Daszak was also part of the World Health Organization-China team that dismissed the lab leak hypothesis as “extremely unlikely” earlier this year.
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